Big Bird is funny. Romney spending $2 trillion more on defense isn’t.

The Obama campaign has upped the ante against Mitt Romney in the war over Big Bird. They now have a new TV ad mocking Romney’s fixation on putting the demise of Sesame Street, and specifically Big Bird, above any and all other policy priorities facing America in these difficult times.

Keep in mind that with so little time during the debate the other night, and with so many issues not even touched during the discussion, Romney chose to talk about how he was going to cut funding for Big Bird, as if Sesame Street is what ails America, and cutting Sesame Street’s meager funding will somehow solve all of our problems. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Sesame Street’s parent, so to speak, gets a little over $400 million a year, and that money goes to a lot more than just Sesame Street, including funding for NPR.

So Mitt Romney is REALLY concerned about $400 million in the federal budget.

Romney is less concerned about the additional $2 trillion he’s going to waste on military projects that aren’t even wanted by the Pentagon. And Politifact says the charge is “true.”

The Pentagon’s budget is expected to run in the range of 3.2 to 3.5 percent of GDP in the next fiscal year. According to the Center for a New American Security, a group with ties to both Republican and Democratic administrations, even a gradual ramp up to 4 percent would increase defense spending by $2.1 trillion over the next ten years, as reported by CNN.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group focused on deficit reduction, uses that number too, as do other budget think tanks. Romney seems to accept it, so as far as the $2 trillion figure goes, it seems reasonably accurate.

The president said Romney planned to increase defense spending by $2 trillion and that was money the military hadn’t asked for.

Independent analysts confirm that number, and Romney did not deny it.

Military leaders have testified in support of the president’s spending plan, and we found no evidence of disagreement behind the scenes.

We rate the statement True.

So let’s compare the two numbers, $400m and $2 trillion:


Do these two numbers look the same to you?  Perhaps this video will help us appreciate the difference between these two numbers:

So in a nutshell, Mitt Romney is very worried about “wasting” $400m in the budget on Sesame Street and National Public Radio, but he has no problem wasting 5,000 times as much money on increasing defense spending for things the Pentagon doesn’t even want or need.

Then again, we probably will need another $2 trillion dollars to fight the additional wars that Mitt Romney wants us to fight, including wars in Syria, Iran and Libya. After all, 70% of Romney’s foreign policy advisers worked for George W. Bush.  And those guys got us into two wars that are going to cost us $4 trillion. So what’s another $2 trillion among friends?  (Hell, in the Romney family budget, that’s a rounding error.)

Remember, the Republicans talk a good talk about the deficit – pretty much only when they want to cut programs they don’t like, like Sesame Street.  But when push comes to shove, which Presidents saddled America with the greatest debt? Republican presidents:

GOP Presidents     Dem Presidents
$9.5 trillion            $3.8 trillion

Total debt is $14.3 trillion.
$1 trillion of debt comes from before Reagan (NYT doesn’t make clear who created that debt).
$13.3 trillion accumulated from Reagan to Obama.

71% of the $13.3 trillion was under GOP presidents.
28% of the $13.3 trillion was under Dem presidents.

And sure, President Obama has also added to the debt (mostly in order to successful stave off another Great Depression, a worthy cause if there was one). Compare that to George Bush’s reason for putting us back in debt – tax cuts for the rich, and two wars of convenience in the Middle East. And Mitt Romney’s justification – tax cuts for the rich, more wars of convenience in the Middle East.

Then again, maybe he won’t start those wars.  After all, it was Mitt Romney who said he wouldn’t have gone after bin Laden in Pakistan, meaning bin Laden would be alive today were Romney president (looks like Big Bird isn’t the only one who’s yellow).  So if Romney wouldn’t use the additional $2 trillion to take on others like bin Laden, then who would he spend that additional $2 trillion going after?

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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